Description

This is a list of our favorite plants for use with dry streambeds, infiltration basins, swales, or other features designed to hold and infiltrate water in landscapes. This list is separated into two categories.

Plants that thrive along the rim or nearby dry streambeds, infiltration basins, and swales are plants that will do well in areas where their roots will have access to the seasonally wetter zone adjacent to infiltration features, but do not want to be in the area that actually fills with water. Many California native and Waterwise plants thrive in this area. This list is simply some of our favorites for that condition.

Plants that thrive in dry streambeds, infiltration basins, and swales are plants that are tolerant of the periodic flooding of these features during and immediately after rain events. This list of plants is much smaller. All of these plants can take consistently wet soils in the rainy season, but do not require high levels of irrigation during the dry season.

If you have additional plants you have used in periodically flooded areas of California landscapes that you think should be on this list, please let us know!

Plant List

Plants that thrive along the rim or nearby dry streambeds, infiltration basins, and swales (but not inside)

Alkalai sacaton

Botanical Name: Sporobolus airoides
Plant Type: Grass, Native
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: All day sun
Height: 2 ft. - 3 ft. (to 4 ft. with flowers)   Width: 2 ft. - 4 ft.

Allen Chickering sage

Botanical Name: Salvia 'Allen Chickering'
Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: All day sun
Height: 3 ft. - 4 ft.   Width: 4 ft. - 7 ft.

Autumn sage + cvs

Botanical Name: Salvia greggii
Plant Type: Shrub
Water Needs: Low 2
Exposure: All day sun
Height: 2 ft. - 4 ft.   Width: 3 ft. - 4 ft.

Baja fairy duster

Botanical Name: Calliandra californica
Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Water Needs: Low 2
Exposure: All day sun
Height: 3 ft. - 5 ft.   Width: 4 ft. - 6 ft.

Berkeley sedge

Botanical Name: Carex tumulicola
Plant Type: Grass, Sedge
Water Needs: Low 2
Exposure: Morning sun, Moderate shade, All day sun
Height: 1 ft. - 1.5 ft.   Width: 1.5 ft. - 3 ft.

Bladderpod

Botanical Name: Isomeris arborea
Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: All day sun
Height: 4 ft. - 6 ft.   Width: 4 ft. - 6 ft.

California bay

Botanical Name: Umbellularia californica
Plant Type: Tree, Native
Water Needs: Moderate 3
Exposure: Morning sun, Partial sun
Height: 30 ft. - 50 ft.   Width: 30 ft. - 50 ft.

California bush sunflower + cvs

Botanical Name: Encelia californica
Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Water Needs: Low 2
Exposure: All day sun
Height: 3 ft. - 4 ft.   Width: 3 ft. - 6 ft.

California fescue

Botanical Name: Festuca californica
Plant Type: Grass, Native
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: Partial sun
Height: 1 ft. - 2 ft.   Width: 1 ft. - 2 ft.

California gray rush

Botanical Name: Juncus patens
Plant Type: Grass, Rush, Native
Water Needs: Moderate 3
Exposure: Morning sun, Moderate shade, All day sun
Height: 18 in. - 24 in.   Width: 18 in. - 24 in.

California strawberry

Botanical Name: Fragaria vesca
Plant Type: Ground cover, Perennial
Water Needs: Moderate 3
Exposure: Moderate shade, Partial sun
Height: 2 in. - 8 in.   Width: 2 ft. - 6 ft.

Canyon Prince Wild rye

Botanical Name: Leymus condensatus 'Canyon Prince'
Plant Type: Grass, Native
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: All day sun
Height: 4 ft. - 5 ft.   Width: 4 ft. - 5 ft.

Common yarrow + cvs

Botanical Name: Achillea millefolium
Plant Type: Ground cover, Perennial, Native
Water Needs: Low 2
Exposure: Moderate shade, All day sun
Height: 18 in. - 30 in.   Width: 18 in. - 24 in. then slowly spreading

Creeping barberry

Botanical Name: Berberis repens
Plant Type: Shrub, Ground cover, Native
Water Needs: Moderate 3
Exposure: Morning sun, Moderate shade
Height: 1.5 ft. - 3 ft.   Width: 2 ft. - 3 ft. then slowly spreading

Deer grass

Botanical Name: Muhlenbergia rigens
Plant Type: Grass, Native
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: All day sun
Height: 2 ft. - 4' (to 5' with flowers)   Width: 4 ft. - 5 ft. (to 6 ft. with flowers)

Desert mallow

Botanical Name: Sphaeralcea ambigua
Plant Type: Perennial, Native
Water Needs: Low 2
Exposure: All day sun
Height: 3 ft. - 4 ft.   Width: 3 ft. - 5 ft.

Desert willow + cvs

Botanical Name: Chilopsis linearis
Plant Type: Tree, Native
Water Needs: Low 2
Exposure: All day sun
Height: 15 ft. - 30 ft. (rarely)   Width: 15 ft. - 20 ft.

Golden currant

Botanical Name: Ribes aureum
Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Water Needs: Low 2
Exposure: Morning sun, All day sun
Height: 4 ft. - 6 ft.   Width: 3 ft. - 7 ft.

Hummingbird sage

Botanical Name: Salvia spathacea
Plant Type: Perennial, Native
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: Morning sun, Moderate shade, Partial sun
Height: 12 in. - 18 in.   Width: 18 in. - 24 in. then slowly spreading

Incienso, Brittlebush

Botanical Name: Encelia farinosa
Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: All day sun
Height: 3 ft. - 5 ft.   Width: 3 ft. - 5 ft.

Island bush poppy

Botanical Name: Dendromecon harfordii
Plant Type: Shrub
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: All day sun
Height: 6 ft. - 10 ft.   Width: 6 ft. - 10 ft.

Lilac verbena

Botanical Name: Verbena lilacina 'De La Mina'
Plant Type: Perennial, Native
Water Needs: Low 2
Exposure: All day sun
Height: 2 ft. - 3 ft.   Width: 2 ft. - 4 ft.

Mexican daisy

Botanical Name: Erigeron karvinskianus
Plant Type: Ground cover, Perennial
Water Needs: Moderate 4
Exposure: Morning sun, Moderate shade, All day sun
Height: 6 in. - 15 in.   Width: 3 ft. - 4 ft.

Mountain marigold

Botanical Name: Tagetes lemmonii
Plant Type: Shrub
Water Needs: Low 2
Exposure: All day sun
Height: 3 ft. - 5 ft.   Width: 6 ft.

Pink muhly

Botanical Name: Muhlenbergia capillaris 'Regal Mist'
Plant Type: Grass
Water Needs: Low 2
Exposure: All day sun
Height: 2 ft.   Width: 4 ft. (to 5' with flowers)

Pozo Blue sage

Botanical Name: Salvia 'Pozo Blue'
Plant Type: Shrub
Water Needs: Low 2
Exposure: All day sun
Height: 3 ft. - 4 ft.   Width: 3 ft. - 4 ft.

Red buckwheat

Botanical Name: Eriogonum grande var. rubescens
Plant Type: Perennial, Native
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: All day sun
Height: 1 ft. - 3 ft. (with flowers)   Width: 2 ft. - 3 ft.

Showy penstemon

Botanical Name: Penstemon spectabilis
Plant Type: Perennial, Native
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: All day sun
Height: 1.5 ft. (3 ft. while flowering) - 2 ft. (5 ft. while flowering)   Width: 2 ft. - 4 ft.

Small cape rush

Botanical Name: Chondropetalum tectorum
Plant Type: Perennial, Rush
Water Needs: Moderate 4
Exposure: Moderate shade, All day sun
Height: 3 ft. - 4 ft.   Width: 5 ft. - 6 ft.

Toyon

Botanical Name: Heteromeles arbutifolia
Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: Morning sun, All day sun, Partial sun
Height: 12 ft. - 25 ft.   Width: 12 ft. - 18 ft.

Western Redbud

Botanical Name: Cercis occidentalis
Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Water Needs: Moderate 3
Exposure: Morning sun, Moderate shade, All day sun, Partial sun
Height: 10 ft. - 15 ft.   Width: 10 ft. - 20 ft.

Western sycamore

Botanical Name: Platanus racemosa
Plant Type: Tree, Native
Water Needs: Moderate 3
Exposure: All day sun
Height: 40 ft. - 80 ft.   Width: 30 ft. - 50 ft.

Plants that thrive in dry streambeds, infiltration basins, and swales

Alkalai sacaton

Botanical Name: Sporobolus airoides
Plant Type: Grass, Native
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: All day sun
Height: 2 ft. - 3 ft. (to 4 ft. with flowers)   Width: 2 ft. - 4 ft.

Berkeley sedge

Botanical Name: Carex tumulicola
Plant Type: Grass, Sedge
Water Needs: Low 2
Exposure: Morning sun, Moderate shade, All day sun
Height: 1 ft. - 1.5 ft.   Width: 1.5 ft. - 3 ft.

California gray rush

Botanical Name: Juncus patens
Plant Type: Grass, Rush, Native
Water Needs: Moderate 3
Exposure: Morning sun, Moderate shade, All day sun
Height: 18 in. - 24 in.   Width: 18 in. - 24 in.

California meadow sedge

Botanical Name: Carex pansa
Plant Type: Ground cover, Grass, Sedge, Native
Water Needs: Moderate 4
Exposure: Morning sun, Moderate shade, All day sun
Height: 8 in. - 10 in.   Width: 12 in. - 24 in.

Common yarrow + cvs

Botanical Name: Achillea millefolium
Plant Type: Ground cover, Perennial, Native
Water Needs: Low 2
Exposure: Moderate shade, All day sun
Height: 18 in. - 30 in.   Width: 18 in. - 24 in. then slowly spreading

Deer grass

Botanical Name: Muhlenbergia rigens
Plant Type: Grass, Native
Water Needs: Low 1
Exposure: All day sun
Height: 2 ft. - 4' (to 5' with flowers)   Width: 4 ft. - 5 ft. (to 6 ft. with flowers)

Pink muhly

Botanical Name: Muhlenbergia capillaris 'Regal Mist'
Plant Type: Grass
Water Needs: Low 2
Exposure: All day sun
Height: 2 ft.   Width: 4 ft. (to 5' with flowers)

Small cape rush

Botanical Name: Chondropetalum tectorum
Plant Type: Perennial, Rush
Water Needs: Moderate 4
Exposure: Moderate shade, All day sun
Height: 3 ft. - 4 ft.   Width: 5 ft. - 6 ft.

Western meadow sedge

Botanical Name: Carex praegracilis
Plant Type: Ground cover, Grass, Sedge, Native
Water Needs: Moderate 4
Exposure: Morning sun, Moderate shade, All day sun
Height: 12 in. - 15 in.   Width: 12 in. - 15 in.